Although this issue of Internationalist Perspective has focused on the widening war in the Middle East, (“Heart of Darkness”), the war in Ukraine (“Ukraine”), and on IS (“IS”), there is another mortal crisis ravaging West Africa linked to the slummification of whole regions in which human beings are forced to eke out a daily existence in unsanitary living conditions which invite disease, and where the healthcare infrastructure is so sparse as to be almost non-existent. The discourse prevalent in the press and put forth by governmental personal and mouthpieces for health care institutions is that this disaster is natural, an epidemic, not unlike the flu (which kills between 4,000 and 40,000 per year), except there is no vaccine for the current Ebola epidemic, and according to GlaxoSmithKline (UK pharmaceuticals firm), it takes 7-10 years to develop a safe and effective vaccine even though they’re working on fast tracking this to be ready by 2015. That will be too late, however, for this Ebola epidemic. (BBC 10/17/14).
In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that there could be 10,000 new cases a week (BBC 10/17/14) and adds that 9,000 people have already been infected and that more than 4,500 people have died (these figures, however, are not accurate, due to unreliable methods and difficulty in collecting data). Some figures given have estimated the deaths to be twice as high. In containing the spread of the virus and treating Ebola Viral Disease (EVD), even without the vaccine, what is essential is a quick diagnosis, isolation wards, supportive care and equipment ALL of which are unavailable in the worst hit areas of West Africa (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) and ALL of which would drastically reduce the chances of death from this disease. In this article you will find details of austerity measures involving budget cuts in the WHO and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the billions of dollars, along with elimination in the WHO of 16 percent of the staff in which 35% came from “cuts in the departments that deal with outbreak preparedness and response”.
In a global capitalist economy, with global production and distribution chains, an epidemic like this can and will spread beyond its original geographical site. At the same time, capitalism will do everything to avoid allocating the funds to deal with this mortal danger, such as developing a vaccine, or eliminating the conditions that produce and spread the epidemic, and instead seek only to contain it geographically.
This disease has spread and reached epidemic proportions, not because the supportive environment needed to stop it in its tracks is not available. It is available, but like everything else in a commodity producing society, health care is only available if you can buy it. The spread of this disease and the resulting deaths from EBV is the price humankind pays for a retrogressive social form – “capitalism kills” - that feeds off the destruction of human life whether it be in the form of cannon fodder on the battlefield, or the loss of human life to disease.
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